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Freedom or Bondage



Theme: How do we know in which we are living?


In Pastor Dan's message yesterday on leadership and moral authority, he focused on the words obedience, morality, and influence. Each of these words has a different context and motivation for those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and all that He represents than those who see these words within the context of the world and self.


Let us focus on the word obedience, for on this word the others anchor. For those in Christ, we do obedience out of love and gratitude. We long to do it, and we feel bad when we fail. In the Book of John, he records Jesus saying, "If you love me, keep my commands," and, "Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me."


In Romans, chapter 7, we see Paul agonizing over the fact that he cannot perfectly obey God's moral laws, even referring to himself as a "wretched man." Only a changed and softened heart can express the agony of falling short of God's righteous Law.


The person in Christ sees obedience to God's moral laws as freedom from sin's destructive force, debilitating guilt, and loss of moral influence. This person sees Jesus as the fulfillment of God's Law and the only means by which they can hope to obey them. Obedience is joy. Obedience is an expression of love and gratitude.


In a world and a life without Christ, the word obedience has a negative connotation, and we see this even in the very young. Obedience causes an invasion of independence, a hindrance to freedom. It is almost scary to see how those without Christ think they have liberty while the chains of bondage are growing tighter and tighter. I do not say any of this arrogantly, as if I have arrived or that we who know Jesus as our Lord and Savior are any better than those who have yet to discover Him. On the contrary, we finally see ourselves as who we are.


There are two reasons we all obey laws that govern our behavior. One is fear of punishment and loss of the carefully crafted image we develop. The other is a genuine love for the lawgiver and a desire to please Him. This reason acknowledges who we are without any pretense or mask.


Moral leadership and influence can only come from those who can acknowledge their vulnerability and failings while obeying God's righteous Law in love and gratitude to the one fulfilling the Law.


 


Scripture: Romans 13:8-10 (NIV)


“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.”


 

Prayer:


Lord, as I meditate on Pastor’s message and your Word today, please bring my focus back to me and what you have done in my life, who I am without you, and how vulnerable I am to the brilliant attacks by Satan. Let me never compare, Lord, for any comparison I make will be flawed and tainted by pride and flesh. Let me first remove the plank from my eye, before pointing out the speck in my brother’s. And, Father, make love for you and my fellow travelers be my only motivation for my actions and thoughts. Amen.

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